Joshua L. Freeman is an assistant research fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taipei. As a cultural historian of twentieth-century China and a specialist in Uyghur literature, he explores the interactions of socialist policy and national culture across borders and administrations. His focus is the transborder Uyghur nation, whose formation was closely intertwined with history’s two largest socialist states.

Before arriving in Taiwan in 2022, Freeman spent three years as a fellow at the Princeton Society of Fellows and as a lecturer in Princeton’s Department of East Asian Studies. He completed his PhD at Harvard University in 2019. Prior to pursuing his doctoral studies, he lived for seven years in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, an experience that deeply informs his research. In addition to working there as a translator, he earned a master’s degree in Uyghur literature at Xinjiang Normal University with a thesis on avant-garde Uyghur poetry.

Freeman’s book manuscript, The Poetry of Power: Uyghur National Culture in Twentieth-Century China, connects China to cultural trends in the Islamic world and the broader socialist zeitgeist. It demonstrates that socialist policies, implemented in China’s northwest borderlands beginning in the 1930s, enabled the small Sino-Soviet frontier community of Ili to transform its local culture into the new Uyghur national culture.

Freeman’s translations of Uyghur poetry have been published in The AtlanticThe Guardian, the New Statesman, and numerous literary journals, while his public-facing scholarship has appeared in the New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, and the New York Times. His translation of Uyghur poet Tahir Hamut Izgil's memoir Waiting to Be Arrested at Night has been published by Penguin Press (US) and Jonathan Cape (UK), and was named a notable book of 2023 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Economist, and Time.

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